Why do we welcome people who are sexually stigmatized as allies in our mission of child sexual abuse prevention? Aren't they more of a liability than an asset, if we want to convince politicians and companies to give us their support?
This is a question we get asked a lot. The short answer is we don't treat people as assets or liabilities, we treat them as human beings. We won't dehumanize or scapegoat anyone for the sake of our boosting our popularity with donors, and when we see the human rights of anyone being infringed in the name of child protection, we are here to stand up for them.
Our original formation was prompted by the law FOSTA, which sacrifices the rights of sex workers on the faith of a promise that censoring online speech about sex work will put a dent in sex trafficking. (Spoiler: it doesn't.) We're in that same place again with the EARN IT Act today, which if passed will harm an even broader range of people, by forcing Internet companies to build their platforms to be less secure and private for everybody.
Prostasia Foundation is the only child protection organization that welcomes anyone who can accept our values as allies in our mission against such repression. Because suffering harm from stigma is something that many of our allies have in common, they have a dual interest in combating it. First, the interests in upholding the human rights of their own community. Second, the knowledge that stigma also harms children, by making prevention harder.
This is why it is no "gotcha" when someone points out that a member of our Advisory Council is LGBTQ+, or a sex worker, or kinky, or a survivor, or draws taboo art, or has experience of the criminal justice system. Whatever you think disqualifies them from being involved with us, is probably one of the very reasons why they are there. We invite representation from each of the communities that are affected when "think of the children" goes wrong.
Because of this, all sorts of people have seized our vision and become allies under our Board's leadership, in our shared mission to promote an evidence-based and human rights centered approach towards the prevention of child sexual abuse. This approach is incompatible with the stigma that some other groups depend on to please their donors. And honestly, we're fine with that.
We know that it fires people up when we challenge their stereotypes, and point out the harms of stigma. But we are convinced that open and accurate communication about this problem is essential. We will never eliminate child sexual abuse if we shrink from talking about it accurately. Child sexual abuse is a human problem. And human problems are never solved through dehumanization.
However, in part because we won't sacrifice our principles, Prostasia Foundation has yet to find a major donor willing to stand behind our vision for the organization. We do have three strong proposals for funding on the table, which you can read about below. But if we don't get any of them funded, they will be the last under our current Executive team.
I'm not giving up on Prostasia. In fact, I have more confidence in it now than ever. Getting people to embrace its challenging but important message has been my ultimate stretch as a policy advocate. And it has worked—the tide is turning—but it is turning slowly. In the meantime, I also have to be responsible to my own children. That means being able to accept that where Prostasia is right now, isn't where I need it to be personally.
Therefore if I fail to rally donors behind any of our current proposals, I will be asking the Board to accept my resignation and to seek someone who can do better at convincing the philanthropic community to support our vital work.
What will it mean for Prostasia Foundation going forward if I step down as Executive Director? It will give others the opportunity to step up, and we are already preparing for a more decentralized approach to updating our blog, podcast, newsletter, and social media. Not having a full-time volunteer may mean that they are updated less frequently, but rest assured that Prostasia Foundation will not be going away.